Work advancing electrical energy systems earns prof award

York University Associate Professor John Lam has earned recognition from an industry-leading organization for his work advancing the development of leading-edge power electronics technologies for renewable and reliable electrical energy systems.

Lam, from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering, was honoured with a second-place prize paper award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Industry Applications Society.

“IEEE journals are top ranked in electrical engineering, particularly in the field of power electronics and power engineering; any prized-journal paper award from IEEE is prestigious,” says Lam. “This award is only given to the top three papers from more than 150 submissions, so I am very happy to receive this recognition.”

John Lam
John Lam

Lam’s awarded paper, titled “Fault-Tolerant Operation of a Multi-Mode Stacked Switch Rectifier Leg through Built-In Circuit Redundancy,” was developed alongside his former PhD student who is now working in the power electronics industry, Reza Emamalipour, and published in the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications journal.

The paper proposes a method that can improve the resilience and reliability of power electronic converter circuits and, therefore, entire electrical energy systems.

Many electrical energy systems ranging from household devices to industrial equipment require abundant power supply to function. While starting an electric device may seem as simple as flipping a switch, the electrical energy supporting these systems must first be converted to a usable form of power through processes governed by the field of power electronics.

“Many existing electrical circuits don’t have fault-tolerant operation; if one component fails, you have to replace the entire device,” says Lam.

To solve this issue, Lam and Emamalipour tested and developed a multi-mode power electronic circuit with a control scheme that allows electrical circuits to continue adequate function amidst circuit failings. By incorporating built-in circuit redundancy, their proposed system demonstrated the ability to switch between different operating modes, allowing for continuous power supply at high power efficiency without interruption from any cases of circuit failure.

This work has a wide range of pragmatic applications, boasting the potential to improve the longevity and reliability of power electronic circuits that support technologies ranging from electric vehicles to household electronics. Improving the lifetime of electric circuits can also help reduce the need for costly and burdensome system repairs and replacements.

“I am always pleased to see my students’ research receiving recognition and I want to give a lot of credit to my student who was involved in this work,” says Lam. “He helped execute the research very well, even with circuit debugging, different hardware challenges and testing. This project took a lot of work.”

Lam will continue to advance the field of power electronics through ongoing and future projects with the ultimate goal of improving the efficiency, reliability and cost-effectiveness of electrical energy systems.